Dec 17

Sandi – My Journey to IronMOM

My name is Sandi Haws and I just completed an ironman 70.3 (half ironman).  My journey through this adventure taught me a lot about myself, family, and friends.  I am hoping that if you have ever had a big obstacle in your path… reading this may help you find the strength to push through.    To better understand my journey here is a little about me and my family.  My husband and I have been married for 7 years now.  We have two little kids: 3 and 1 years old.  My husband is a registered nurse who works 12-hour night shifts 3 days a week about an hour away from home.  I am registered dietitian.  For the last couple years I have worked 1-2 days per week while staying at home with the kids.  Right before starting training for this race I decided to work part-time with 3 set days each week.  We decided to en-roll our 3 year old son in preschool for this year to see if a classroom setting will help him focus a little more.  It has been a great experience for us.  My husband’s job is unique.  It allows him to be home and watch our 1-year-old on the days I work.  However, on his work days we hardly see him at all.  My husband came to me one day with the idea to train for a half ironman and write about our experience.  At first I thought the idea was crazy.  I am not a writer, and a race that big would require so much training.  One of the reasons I married my husband is because he helps me move past initial fears that often keep me trapped in immobility.  I get frozen in place trying to figure out how or where to start.  All the obstacles start to surround me and I can’t see a way around them.  My husband gets so much fire and excitement for new ideas.  He does all the research to make a dream become real.  And all of a sudden I start to see a path to the goal.  It is a wonderful gift that he has given me many times in our marriage.  Without his guidance I would not have started on this journey at all.

One of the initial promises I made to myself when I started this, was to make sure that my training would have as little impact as possible on my family.  I didn’t want training to take away time spent with them.  Despite the fact that I was just starting to work more I knew I had to find a way to make this work.  Another promise was to try to be prudent about money.  I had the luck of already having a bike.  Jon and I did a couple small triathlons before we had children, and had bought bikes back then.  I will discuss different things I did to save money, and things that I eventually spent money on.

 

I will give a little background info on my level of fitness just prior to training for this race.  I did very little working out in high school.  I was on the volleyball team for one year.  In college I did workout videos with friends, started lifting weights regularly at the gym (very little cardio), played outdoor sand volleyball, wake boarded, started running 5Ks occasionally.  I was a slow runner, usually averaging 10 minute miles during races.  If you don’t think you are an athlete don’t let that stop you.  At 25 years old I would have told you I am not a runner a biker or a swimmer; I don’t know a thing about any of them and I am not any good at any of them.  When I met my husband we did a few 5Ks together.  He helped create a plan for me to get faster.  I followed a training regimen for about 6 weeks, and dropped my pace to under a 9 minute mile.  It felt great.  I had never really been trained by anyone before, and I loved seeing such a drastic improvement.   My husband had several marathons under his belt before we met, and at some point I decided I would like to do one.  It was a year or more into our marriage, and we hadn’t been working out much.  I was basically starting from scratch.  I remember that even one mile was painful then.  After my first marathon I was determined to get faster and by my third marathon I had dropped a minute per mile off my pace.  Then I started having kids.  After my first child, I ran a marathon 6-months postpartum, but was very slow again.  After my second baby I ran a marathon about 8 months postpartum.  That was this first day of this year 2014.  My knee started hurting halfway through the race and I pushed through the pain.  After the race I backed off running a lot.  I took a few weeks off to let it heal.  I started running 2-4 miles at most, and picked up my pace.  My knee didn’t hurt unless I went more than 4 miles.  I cut back running to 3 days a week at most.  That is where I was at when Jon presented the ironman idea to me.  If I hadn’t run a marathon just 4-5 months prior I don’t think I would have agreed.  But just 18 months after my last child was born I am in better shape than I ever have been before.  Despite many small successes and failures I was able to balance, work, family, and training and I am glad I lived through this!

How I got started…  taking on more work, training plans, time with family, etc

 

  1. Life plan: Each week I mapped out my entire schedule to determine how and when I could workout. I looked online for some scheduling printouts or organizers and eventually created my own which is attached below.
  2. Research: One of my first steps was finding a training plan.  I didn’t just look at one I looked at several.  I didn’t follow any exactly, but adapted the plans to fit my life and schedule, trying to make sure to implement important aspects of the training plans.  I read about the half ironman and tried to learn from others’ mistakes.
  3. Where to train: Early on I had to decide how and where I would train for this race. Gyms, pools, bikes, strollers, weights, treadmills, bike trailers, bicycle trainers, stationary bikes, etc.
  4. When: I tried to train when kids were asleep as much as possible, so that my working out was taking away my “me time” not my family time.  I also wanted to include my children in my workouts when possible.  This affected what equipment was my priority.

 

 

Life Plan/ Research

 

Once I found a Ironman 70.3 training plan I had to find a way to stay organized.  Until I was able to see that I could fit working out into my life, I didn’t care about the specific workouts.  I spent an hour one day looking at daily, weekly, monthly schedulers/organizers/planners.  A lot of them didn’t work for me.  I didn’t want to plan out every hour, but I needed something with more space than a monthly calendar.  I needed to be able to look at my week and see my work days, my husband’s work days, days I watch my niece and nephew, activities with my kids, and my workout plan, but without having to know exactly what time some things may happen.  One of the best things about my job is that I don’t have set hours.  I can arrive at work at 5 am or 10 am.  I leave when my workload is done 6-8 hours.  Schedules with my family and kids change so I don’t write down specific start times for things, unless I have an appointment.  I found a great idea online and created my own Calendar in Word.

 

 

Each row was given a title and events from each category could be tracked throughout the week.  When planning each workout I had to consider a lot of things.  The weather during a summer in Texas is brutal.  Any middle of the day workouts needed to be swimming or biking.  I rarely ever ran mid day.  If I did it was only a few miles.  Since my husband works evenings on the days he works he is not home at night after the kids are in bed.   He is not home in the morning before the kids wake.  I have to either bring the kids with me on a workout when they are awake or workout at home when they are asleep.  This was a big factor in deciding where to spend money in terms of workout equipment.  On my work days I can’t workout during nap time or with the kids, so I must work out early morning or after bedtime.  The number of hours I had to work out varied depending on all these factors.  Here is an example of how I utilized the Calendar for my life.  It helped me keep things straight most of the time.

 

 

This was not an actual week, but an example of how it all came together.  It is very similar to a normal week’s schedule.  I printed many copies of the blank calendar and put them on a clipboard.  Near the end of each week I would start working on the next week.  I would adjust based on how the previous week went, and was able to keep up with the most difficult workouts on the training plans I had found.

 

Where to Train

 

I had some equipment already, and had a limited budget.  I wanted to include the kids on some of my workouts.  I needed to be able to workout at home 3 days per week.  All of these factors influenced how I spent my money.  Below is a list of what I used for training.

RUNNING

Nature:  I did the majority of my training outside in nature.  I utilized every park and trail that I could find within a 20 mile radius of my house.  No matter where I am in my city I can give a good estimate of how many miles I am from home.  When the weather was good I brought the kids along.

Jogging stroller:  As soon as I was pregnant with my second child I started planning on getting a new jogging stroller – one that would hold two kids.  I used it a lot to train for my marathon, and I used it to train for this race as well.  I use it on almost all outings as well: zoo, museum, park, walks to grocery store, etc.  This investment was very worth it to me.  One day when my three year old wouldn’t go down for a nap he came along on a 6 mile jog.  He slept most of the run and ended up getting some much needed rest.  On longer runs it is really nice to bring some water along.   (ARTICLE)

Shoes:  I spend about $50 – $60 on running shoes.  I probably buy a new pair once every 2 years.  I put a lot of miles on my shoes, and put a lot of thought into each purchase.  The discounted shoes are often the model from the previous year.  They are not poor quality, just not the newest and most exciting.  I have always been able to find great running shoes staying under $60.

Tracker:  To monitor my pace/distance/etc I used a free app on my phone.  I like having my phone on me any time I workout in case something happens.  It uses GPS to let me know my pace and distance.  I didn’t pay for anything just utilized the free app that came with my phone: RunKeeper.  I also utilized a program called mapmyride on some of my bike rides when I wanted to try out a new route.

  BICYCLE

Bike:  My bike is about 7 years old now.  My husband and I did a lot of research and found a company that made less expensive triathlon bikes.  We found a bike for about $700 that had higher end components.  My sister-in-law spent $800 on a good road bike.  They both worked well.  I personally do prefer the aero bars (handle bars that allow you to ride in a more aerodynamic position).  I noticed a significant difference in my speed, and the position was very comfortable for me.

Bicycle Trainer:  A bike trainer allows you to take your bike and set it up in your home to ride in place.  I prefer it to a stationary bike for several reasons.  First, you can get a bike trainer for much less than a stationary bike.  Second, you are riding your actual bike with a bike trainer.  You can practice correct position on your bike in addition to building your muscle.  It will also get you used to the seat on your bike.  If you can bike outside for all of your training that is amazing, but if weather is a limitation or you are home with kids, like me, the bike trainer is a great solution.

Bike trailer:  I actually didn’t end up getting a bike trailer.  It takes up a lot of space and so I skipped that investment.  I also have issues with my 3 year old being too rough with his little sister.  The one time I borrowed a bike trailer to try it out it didn’t go well.  If my kids got along better I might have gotten a bike trailer that can be used as a jogging stroller as well.

Bike Computer: I started with a $10 bike computer.  It worked great.  It tracked everything that you would want.  It was not wireless.  The one thing it lacked was light, and when I started riding more in the dark I started to want a light on my computer.  I bought a $20 bike computer that was wireless and had a backlight.

Bike shoes and clips: You can actually save time on your transition from bike to swim if you don’t wear bike shoes.  I never noticed a big difference in my speed with bike shoes.  Although I did get bike shoes I don’t think they are necessary.  It works just as well to get toe clips and straps.  The pedal goes around the front of your shoes so you get push down and pull up while pedaling.  This is a much less expensive option.

      SWIMMING

Pool:  There are a lot of options out there for pool access: personal pool, gym, community pool, neighborhood pool.  Our city gym has a pool for a great price.  It doesn’t have childcare, however.  I was lucky to have an outdoor neighborhood pool.  I waited anxiously for it to open at the beginning of summer, and trained in it til mid October when it closed for the year.  I would have used the city gym if I had been training during the winter.  There pool is indoors.  Texas is known for long hot summers so I had a lot of warm months to train in our neighborhood pool.

Swimsuit:  I did not buy a fancy swimsuit, I just used an old one piece that I had.

Goggles:  I spent a lot of time finding goggles that wouldn’t leak.  I had to go through a few pairs before I found one that worked.   ARTICLE

WEIGHTS

Neither of the training plans that I ended up using included a weight-lift day.  I think it is essential to build all the muscles utilized in running so that you don’t do damage to your joints.  The stronger the muscles the more support for your joints.  Instead of always just running I also worked in some track workouts with bleachers.  WEBSITE I used a couple training videos that helped workout my core.  I also did planks, squats, superman, crunches, etc.  A strong core helps you keep better posture when running.  I have a small set of hand weights where you can adjust the weigh amount.  I did some good bicep, chest, and shoulder workouts with the weights.  I also used them while I did squats.  The weigh set was actually a free gift from work.  I went to the local high school track and ran bleacher miles and did sprints.  I love using gym equipment for weight lifting, but was able to do everything I needed with a little less expense.

     CLOTHING

Workout clothes: I have been wearing the same 3 pairs of workout shorts for the last 10 year.  I liked the first pair I bought so much that I went back a week later and bought 2 more pairs.  Since my body has changed over the years I have purchased new running shirts, but I have always been happy with generic brand workout clothes.  I was able to survive all the training with about 4 different workout outfits.

Race clothes: I really wanted to try a triathlon suit for the race.  This was a hard decision because they are expensive but not essential.  I was originally going to buy a one piece because they are a little less expensive.  While researching I read on a website that they are difficult to take off in the port-a-potties for bathroom breaks during the race.  I ended up buying tri top and shorts online.  I used the sizing guide and ordered the cheapest one I could find.  Unfortunately, the top didn’t work for me because it chafed at the top by the zipper.  The shorts on the other hand were perfect.  I loved the little extra padding on the bike, and felt they were very comfortable to run with.  They worked great for swimming as well.  Since I trained with no padding on the bike the padding in the tri suit was a welcome extra on race day.  I just wore an old sports bra during the swim.  I pulled on my favorite running shirt before the bike and wore it the rest of the race.  It worked out perfectly.

 

Workouts with kids:

I started altering my routes so that I wouldn’t go by a park where my 3-year-old would inevitably start begging to stop at the playground.  I loved to end workouts at the park, however, when I could stretch while they play, then walk home after.

 

 

 

 

I actually printed off two free online training plans for the Ironman 70.3.  Then I started making adaptations.  I did my best to make sure that I always did the hardest workout of the week, and I tried to make sure I was increasing my distances in each event at a similar rate as the training plans suggested.  Other than that I changed things around a lot.  There were days where my only option was riding on my bike with the Mag trainer.  On other days I could only run if I brought the kids in the jogging stroller.  I adapted time of workout, type of workout to my schedule and conflicts.  By the end of it all I had done the complete swim distance several times including 2 times in open water.  I had done the complete run distance twice.  I had done the complete bike distance once.  I did a lot of transition practice between swim and bike and bike and run.  I completed a 1.2 mi swim followed by a 40 mile bike followed by a 7 mile run.  That workout killed me.  I got so nutrition depleted and dehydrated that I hit a wall and walked about 3 miles of that run.  It was a bit disheartening to me.  It was a really hot day, and I had not adequately replaced fluid, carbohydrates, and electrolytes.  Two weeks later I did a 20 mile bike and a 13 mile run.  It was cooler and I did better with my nutrition.  The run went really well, and I kept a great pace.  Still the last 2 miles I think nutrition again got the better of me.  During my training I never properly repleted nutrition.  I didn’t have enough space on the bike.  Texas summers get very hot and all my long bike rides were between noon and 5 pm.  It is difficult to carry water on runs, and hard to plan runs around water fountains.  I am making a lot of excuses, but I could and should have done better with this.  I was already pretty aware of what I can tolerate.  I have run several marathons, and know what I can handle and what I need during a 26.2 mile run.  I just didn’t prepare enough on training rides to make what I needed available to myself.  I would drain all my Gatorade, and suffer through the rest of the workout.  I just kept hoping that I wouldn’t need to worry about it as much in October.  I was training in 95+ degree weather, and I was hoping for 70s on race day.  One thing I did practice was initial bike nutrition.  I read on a training plan that some people don’t tolerate water or food well the first 10-30 minutes of the bike after their swim.  After my training swims I practiced my transition and did a 30 min bike ride after my swim.  I tried drinking water and Gatorade and practiced eating pretzels.  I had no problems at all so I knew I could start repleting nutrition as soon as I hopped on the bike.  ARTICLE

 

 

 

I am amazed everyday at the things other moms are doing in their lives.  Sometimes people would ask me how I had time for this.  It is the same as anything in your life.  What you put as your priority gets done.  I still worked and put my family first, but I definitely had to give some things up:

Cleaning:  My husband has said multiple times in the last few weeks since the race how much cleaner the house has been.  He keeps saying I don’t know what we are doing differently…  I keep responding that I am spending hours cleaning everyday again!    I was a much less effective housekeeper during this ordeal to say the least.

Cooking: I should have been eating better in preparation for the race, but we were eating out more and eating more pre-made meals.  I stopped making homemade bread.  I stopped making food from scratch.  I had no time to grocery shop and that lead to more eating out.

Me time:  I gave up my “me time”; well exercise became my “me time”.  I was playing volleyball weekly with some friends, but that was quickly replaced by training.

Spouse time:  I made sure to give a lot of attention to the kids through everything, but I did end up spending less time with my husband, which was a strain on our relationship.  Our evenings together after the kids went to bed became my training time.

Patience:  The worst thing that I gave up during training was my self-control.  The added stress and time associated with training left me drained and fatigued.  I was quicker to anger and less patient.  I was more irritated with spills and messes.  I know it is ridiculous to get upset at a 3-year-old who accidentally spills his spaghetti sauce across the room, but when you are exhausted you are less rational.  I love my kids more and more each day, but I regret that maybe I could or should have been a better mom.  I do hope that someday my children will find some personal strength from this goal that I worked for and achieved.

 

I tried to find accomplishment in every workout.  When I was about 1 mile away from home I always picked up my pace.  I tried to finish every run strong.  Running was the one thing I already knew how to do, and I already could do the distance.  So with running I focused on improving speed and form.  With the swim and bike I rewarded myself for every improvement in distance or speed.  Every workout I would get home and tell my husband what great workout I had just done.  I texted my sister-in-laws about my reached goals, and they told me about their own accomplishments.  That positive outlook got me outside on those days that I didn’t feel like doing anything.  With about two months left I noticed differences in myself.  At that point I was tapering so I had this endurance, but I wasn’t using every ounce on every workout.  I noticed how much longer I lasted playing with the kids.  Things that used to wear me out, didn’t anymore.  I was not in bad shape at the beginning, but I feel like a real athlete now.  My overall health is in a better place than it was before.  Every second was worth it, and the moment crossing the finish line was euphoric.

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Jul 02

14 Must Have Accessories for Your Triathlon Bike (ultimate guide to bike accessories)

Biking is the most time consuming portion of any triathlon both in distance and in time. Learning all the ins and outs of how to tri bike can be an enormous challenge . . . add to that learning how to fuel yourself on the bike, how to change a tire, what the best water bottle is, etc only adds to that stress. No worries, we have compiled this list of the top triathlon bike accessories so that you don’t need to waste your time surfing the web.

FREE 30 Day Bleacher Workout Click Here!

Scroll to the bottom of the page for more information about any of this triathlon bike gear.  We do make a commission if you click on one of the links and make a purchase in Amazon.com . . . thanks!

Click on Any Product for More Details or to Buy Online

ACCESSORYAVERAGE CUSTOMER REVIEW
Ibera Lightweight Water Bottle Cage
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4.4
Bike Pack w/phone Case
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3.9
Bike Shoes, Pedals, Cleats51unh5MAYVL._SL250_4.0
Indoor Bike Trainer
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4.4
FREE 30 Day Bleacher Workout Click Here!

 1. Ibera Extra Lightweight Alloy Bottle Cage

At only 29 g, this ultra-thin bottle cage is the one of the lightest bottle cages on the market. It is made from heat-treated aluminum alloy, which gives it the feather light weight. A typical bottle cage will weigh anywhere between 40g to 70g, nearly triple the weight of this one. It may be light, but still has to hold a bottle with ease. The unique oval design supports and strengthens its hold. The bottle will be securely in place while riding. This cage is perfect for in town riding or touring. It comes in two glossy finishes and two matte finishes. The dimensions of this cage are 4.5″ x 3″ x 3.5″. This one should not be used for rough road riding.

2. Profile Design Legacy Aerobar

The Aerobar is flowing proficiency, extremely lightweight, and provides great comfort. The Profile Design Legacy Clip-On Aerobar is created with a unique split extension and is a perfect addition for triathlon bikes. It has short armrest connections and can be customized into three mounting positions. The Legacy keeps things a step ahead, as the bars can be mounted to fit a person’s body type. It is a great alternative to the high cost bars carried by most bike shops.

3. Genuine Innovations Ultraflate Plus Tire Inflater

This tire inflator works with all CO2 cartridges. It doesn’t matter if it is threaded or unthreaded. A safety features includes a great trigger lock. This helps to prevent accidents and activation when unnecessary. Simply push on when using on a Presta and screw it on when using a Schrader. This pump is really simply to use, anyone can do it. To use, place the CO2 cartridge in the cup. Next, screw on the head and attach to valve. Lastly, unlock the safety latch and attach it to the valve stem. Simply pull the trigger and the air will be released. This inflator is so quick and easy, it ensures the rider will be back to riding in no time. Just what any triathlon rider needs for quick repairs on the road.

4. Multi-Function Bike Multi-tool Bicycle Tool Patch Kit 

This multifunctional bicycle tool allows bikers security that while they are on the road, they can take care of any issue. It comes with a patch kit and tire levers. All of this fits nicely in a carry bag. The 16 in one tool comes with Allen Keys ranges 2-6 and wrenches in 8, 10 and 15. The carrying case has a belt loop so that it can be easily transported. Of course no kit would be complete without the Phillips and Flat head screwdrivers.  Without a multi function tool it will be almost impossible to complete your tri bike accessories kit.

5. Continental 42mm Presta Valve Tube

The Continental standard valve tube is made to fit presta. The German made tube is seamless and has 42mm value length. Designed for 650c wheels, this tube fits most 18-25mm tires. This design offers roundness and enhanced reliability at the valve stem. Created with a butyl tube compound, it’s one of the best on the market.

6. Michelin Lithion 2 Road Tire

This 2 road tire is smooth and puncture resistant. It provides a comfortable ride and is 10 grams lighter than most tires. It has folding bead and overlapped 60 tpi. It is a great option for those who are on the road allot and need dependability.

7. Waterproof Bicycle Cycling Frame Pannier Front Tube Bag

Every biker knows that a tube bag is essential. This one is made from water resistant polyester and even has a clear PVC pouch for a mobile phone. The bag is reflective for night riding and can adjust to any bike type. Durable and roomy, this bag is a must have for the long distance biker.

8. Bicycle Bike Bag Top Tube Triangle Bag 

Storage space is always an issue when doing a triathlon but not anymore. The triangle saddle bag is water resistant and roomy. It will attach to the bike without any tools. It has a nice foam lining and a reflective strip for night riders. Made from water resistant polyester, it is an inexpensive option for storage.

9. BV Bicycle Strap-On Saddle Bag / Seat Bag

The Strap-on Saddle bag will easily attach to either the seat or post of the bike. It will hold keys, tools and patch kits. There are two sizes, medium and large and are completely expandable. It comes with reflective trimming for enhanced visibility at night. The taillight hangers provide the rider with additional safety, and they can attach large tools too.

10. 100 12 Function Cyclocomputer

Every biker needs a Cyclocomputer. They are not only affordable, but versatile. This one has twelve functions and is simple to install. Its water resistant nature makes having it outdoors no worries. It will not only track the current and average speeds, but also the distance and miles per hour. With a slew of options, this is a must have for the biker whose serious about their times.  This is one of the most needed important triathlon bike accessories you will ever buy.

11. Bell Javelin Time Trial/Triathlon Helmet

The newest portion in Bell’s speed successions is the helmet known as Javelin. It has an aerodynamic fuselage, and is intended to be both fast and ventilated for the rider. Fitting is easy with the ear flaps that make getting it on and off quick and easy.

12. Venzo Road Bike Cycling Bicycle Shoes & Pedals

Cycling Shoes are a must for the serious biker. These shoes have award-winning technology that helps to enhance performance. The quick dry material is breathable. The shoe is designed to be low-cut, as well as fast to get on and off. The flexible forefoot makes this a great shoe for biking.

13. Graber Mag Indoor Bicycle Trainer

Adding resistance enhances the workout. This one has three difference levels to choose from, all with a PVC roller. It comes with a one year warranty and is the same amount of resistance used with Cycle Ops trainers.  This bike trainer is perfect for days that are too hot or too cold.  A great tri bike accessory for the serious trainer.

>>CLICK HERE TO BUY THESE ACCESSORIES ONLINE<<

Did I miss an accessory?  Share it below in the comments.

Image Credits: chuckwaters83 (title added)

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Jun 24

Tips for Common Goggle Problems (a little spit goes a long way)

While training for a triathlon I have started racking up the swimming miles.  This process has been a big learning experience as I have struggled through laps with leaking or foggy goggles, missing ear plugs; using nose plugs, swim caps, and more.  So far the biggest challenge has been with my goggles.

After doing a lot of research it seems that if your goggles are leaking a lot they are probably not a good fit for you or might just be a cheap goggle.  I will also add that in one instance I had gotten a small tear in the seam of my goggle.  I didn’t notice until after a long swim, and had finally hopped out of the pool to grab an extra pair that I had.  The likely cause was my little baby using them as a teething toy one morning.  So the following is a list of tips for goggles that fit

  1. Don’t just go with the cheapest option.  A good pair of name brand goggles can be anywhere from $15 to $30 and are well worth the cost.  Speedo is a very reputable brand in the goggle arena.  I would recommend looking at a sporting goods store to compare a few different name brand goggles.
  2. The goggles you own may not be the best fit for your face.  A sporting goods store will give you a lot of options for shape and size.  Often you can open the packaging up and try on goggles to test out the fit.  Try putting on the goggles and letting them stick to your face.  If they stay in place and feel comfortable they will probably be a good option for you.
  3. If you have tried a couple different goggles and still can’t get a good fit, they make goggles that are a little more like a facemask.  They work great for swimming distance and work for a variety of faces.

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I have a narrow face and have had several problems with different goggles.  One pair that I got has a really small nose bridge and the goggles give me a headache.  Another pair seems a little too wide for my face and water gets in on the side.  My most

Another problem that I have had recently is fog.  It gets bad enough that I have a problem swimming straight… in a pool.  I have also learned several tips about foggy goggles.  If this has been a common problem for you try out these 3 tips.

  1. It may be time for a new pair of goggles.  New goggles usually have anti-fog properties, but over time even the best goggles will start to become foggier.  Dirt and scratches will make it worse.
  2. A common trick for swimmers is to spit into the goggles.  Spit, rub, rinse and they are ready to go.
  3. Using dish soap baby shampoo to clean can help.  A very thin layer of conditioner works well too.

Hopefully these goggle tips will help you problem solve your issues in the pool.  It has made my long swims much less stressful.  I can focus more on breathing and stroke and worry less about the water or fog in my goggles.  For additional suggestions, try out Slowtwitch.com. http://204.187.14.165/cgi-bin/gforum.cgi?post=3998067  It has a great forum for triathletes.

Image Credits: Rona Proudfoot (Title Text Added), Alex Bianchi

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Jun 19

How to Buy a Triathlon Bike Without Breaking the Bank (amazing tips and tricks to save big $$$)

It’s no secret . . . triathlons are not the cheapest hobby in the world.  It can cost thousands of dollars to start running tris.  The most costly expense by far that any newbie triathlete will face is the cost of the triathlon bike. Finding a cheap triathlon bike can be incredibly difficult to do.  This chart below highlights our picks for the top 12 triathlon bikes that won’t break the bank (okay we did include an $8,000 bike for fun just because they are so cool to look at).

What to Look For in a Good Triathlon Bike

Okay so what really drives up the cost of different bikes are several aspects rather than just one thing these include:

  • Derailleurs (what actually shifts the gear)
  • Frame (steal, aluminium, carbon)
  • Wheels
  • Handle bars

Of course there is much more that goes into the overall cost of a triathlon bike, but those are the main driving factors in bike price.

What the %&$** is a Derailleur Anyway?

With the derailleur being one of the single most important factors that makes a triathlon bike either cheap or expensive it is important that you understand what one is and what makes one more expensive than another.

Shimano_xt_rear_derailleur-247x300

Wikipedia defines a derailleur as follows:

Derailleur gears are a variable-ratio transmission system commonly used on bicycles, consisting of a chain, multiple sprockets of different sizes, and a mechanism to move the chain from one sprocket to another.

In plain English that just means that the derailleur is the mechanism that moves the chain up and down from gear to gear.

When you hear someone talk about “COMPONENTS” they are generally referring to the derailleurs, brakes and shifters.

What Makes One Derailleur More Expensive Than Another?

Okay now that we know what exactly a derailleur is, what makes one more expensive than another?  In order to get a cheap triathlon bike you have to balance component quality with budget and try to find the best bike with the best components for the lowest cost possible.

Better derailleurs will generally:

  • Use less steal and thus weigh less
  • Have better construction to last longer
  • With better construction they will shift gears more smoothly

In the chart above you will see that all bikes have Shimano components.  I have attempted to list the type of component being used.  The “Low End” or “2300” component will be heavier and not last quit as long as the 105, Ultegra, or Dura Ace.

You will quickly see that the cheaper bikes have the Low End components.  If you buy a cheap tri bike you can always hang on to the bike and decide to upgrade the components at a later date as finances allow.  This is a trick that many bikers use to slowly create the perfect  bike.  One year upgrade the wheels, the next the front derailleur and so on until you have the bike of your dreams.

Hierarchy of Shimano Derailleurs – Comparison Chart

The chart below was not created by me but was borrowed from ChooseMyBicycle.com, you can view the original chart HERE.

This chart details the differences between each of the different Shimano components from lowest cost to most expensive.  If you are wondering what the difference is between a Shimano 105 and Dura Ace than this chart will help you to know which is the best and what the differences are.  This also works are a great comparison chart of all of the Shimano rear derailleurs.

I currently have a Javelin Triathlon bike with Shimano 105 and really have no complaints.

 

 

COMPONENT DESCRIPTION LEVEL
Shimano 2300

SHIMANO 2300

Basic Road Bicycle component

Low cost

Entry
Shimano Claris Shimano ClarisEvolved version of the 2400 groupset Entry
Shimano Sora

SHIMANO SORA

Reliable Gear and Braking system

Light Weight

Entry
Shimano Tiagra

SHIMANO TIAGRA

Light weight

Compact

Cost Effective

Mid Range
Shimano 105

SHIMANO 105

Very Light

Exceptionally Smooth

Increased Durability

Mid Range
Shimano Ultegra

SHIMANO ULTEGRA

Hollow Crank arms

Improved pivots and springs

Intermediate
Shimano Dura-Ace

SHIMANO DURA-ACE

Equal shifting through range

Perfect accuracy while shifting

Pro

Do I Need a Triathlon Bike or a Road Bike?

man triathlon iron man athlete standing with all his equipment in silhouette on white background

More than anything a triathlon is about conserving energy.  You learn to swim in a way that saves your energy for the bike, you learn to eat while biking to have enough energy to run, and you learn to run in a relaxed manner so that you can finish the race.

In road biking you are looking for power and energy conservation is not as much of an issue.

It is this key difference that triathlon bike builders have integrated into the design of tri bikes.  The more of these innovations you have built into your tri bike the more expensive your bike is going to be.

So when it comes down to it . . . it is not NECESSARY to go out and purchase a new tri bike with all of the latest gadgets and gizmos if you are just starting out.  Instead buy a cheaper road bike and purchase desired ad ons.

 

A road bike will work perfectly for an entry level tri bike and it is much cheaper as most tri bike companies try to put all the latest technology on their bikes to have the coolest and best looking bikes out there and it can be hard to get an entry level tri bike for under $1200 minimum.

When I was a Boy Scout I did the Cycling Merit Badge and we had to do 4-25 mile bike rides and 1-50 mile bike ride.  I completed all of these rides on an old Huffy Mountain Bike from Wal-Mart.

Don’t get me wrong.  The more expensive bikes will make riding a bit easier but you can easily complete you training rides, sprint tris, and even short course triathlons on a simple mountain bike.  If you begin to do longer rides than a nice cheap triathlon bike might be a good investment. If later on down the road you start needing to worry about shaving a few minutes off your time than upgrading to a more expensive and decked out bike might be something you can save for.

When I say cheap I mean about $300-$700, this will get you a great bike that will last for years if well maintained.  If you feel that you MUST have an entry level tri bike plan on spending at least $1200.

So What Is the Difference Between a Road Bike and a Tri Bike?

  1. Seat Angle – Tri bikes have a much steeper seat angle that places the rider closer to the handle bars creating a more aerodynamic position.  This also puts less stress on your quads thereby saving energy for the run.
  2. Smaller Wheels – Triathlon bikes have 650c wheels vs 700c wheels of the road bike.  This creates less friction with the road and allows for greater acceleration.
  3. Aero Bars – Tri bikes come equipped with aero bars that allow the rider to lay forward in a more aerodynamic position.

Triathlet auf dem Fahrrad

These are the main differences between a road bike and a triathlon bike.  The fact of the matter is that these three things can all be changed at a later date for a nominal cost.  You can purchase a new seat post, new handle bars, and a new wheel set all for much cheaper than buying a top of the line triathlon bike.

 You’re Ready to Buy Now What?

So the first thing you need to know before going out and spending money on a new bike is the actual size bike that you should buy.  To do this you I recommend going to a local bike shop and having the clerks fit you on a couple bikes.  Act like you are SUPER interested in buying one of their bikes and get the number.  Alternatively you can use an online bike size calculator like this one here.

>>ONLINE ROAD BIKE SIZE CALCULATOR<<

This number tells you the size frame that you should buy.  There is room for adjustment once you purchase the bike but this number will give you a starting point.

Now, take this number and head over to Amazon or Craigslist to actually purchase your bike.  I recommend Amazon.com for a new bike or Craigslist for a nice used bike.

If you do decide to use Amazon and use one of the links above we do earn a commission and we GREATLY appreciate it! (Thanks : ).

For Craigslist I would suggest SEARCH TEMPEST.  What Search Tempest does is allow for you to search the entire USA for what you are looking for . . . a feature missing from Craigslist.

Either of these two methods will work great for finding a nice cheap triathlon bike that meets your needs.  Sandi and I actually used Craigslist to find a new Tri bike at half price as it was a closeout.  After negotiations we were able to get two new tri bikes for $1200 including shipping . . . a great deal!

Bike Is Here . . . Now What?

No that the bike is in your home and you are done ohhing and awing over the shiny new toy you need to put it together and head over to a bike shop to get it fit.  Fitting the bike will insure that the geometry is all right and that the positioning is right to not put pressure in the wrong areas (remember its all about energy conservation).

You can attempt to fit the bike on your own using this amazing website HERE (TRI BIKE FIT). Warning:: Doing this on your own will not ruin your bike but you may be left working MUCH harder on your rides than necessary.

The Bottom Line

There are cheap triathlon bikes out there and it is possible to race and train without going broke.  In the end I think the bottom line is that you don’t want to spend thousands of $$ on a bike that will only save you 5 minutes.

You want to find a bike that is reliable, comfortable, and fits within your budget.

Please realize that while the super expensive bikes look awesome they are NOT required to start running triathlons.  If you already have a mountain bike in the garage grab a pump dust off the cob webs and hit the road.

If you really need a good bike set up a budget (a couple hundred bucks will do the trick) and head out and get the bike that meets your needs.  Remember if REQUIRED you can make updates later on down the road.

Now use our list and pick out your bike (if you do click on one of the bike links and make a purchase we do earn a commission and GREATLY appreciate it) Thanks!

See you on the road!

Image Credits: C. Corleis

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Jun 18

How to Train For a Triathlon Without Spending a Dime (money saving tips for the poor triathlete)

Triathlons are expensive. In fact one of the first reasons people give me for not having run a triathlon is cost.  Unlike marathons where all you need are a good pair of running shoes, triathlons require a lot of gear.  And it is easy to keep spending on the top of the line tri products to make the race a bit easier.

Actual Cost of Triathlon Gear

The below costs are taken directly from Amazon.com and include middle of the road gear (not top of the line and not the cheap-o stuff) needed to begin training for a triathlon.

This brings the cost of simply buying the needed gear to begin training for a triathlon to $2060.  This is a huge amount of money.  Especially for someone who isn’t even sure that triahtlons are for them. Add to this the cost of gym memberships, pool memberships, and replacement parts and you are talking about several thousand dollars just for training.

Keep in mind this isn’t even the top of the line gear.  This is really just for the entry level gear to get you started out in racing. . . oh and don’t forget the $200 race entry fee (for a small unknown race).

Then you realize that every training plan you can find wants you to train for 3 or more hours up to 5 times per week and it quickly becomes clear that this is no joke.  If you are gonna train for a triathlon you are going to have to get a second job to pay for everything but you are also going to have to quit you day job in order to find the time and energy to actually workout and train.

young athlete triathlon in front of a sunrise over the sea

Don’t Fool Yourself – Gear Won’t Make THAT Big a Difference

It doesn’t have to be so expensive OR complicated. Only a very small percentage of racers will ever achieve elite status and of those who do only a small few will ever make money racing.

This guide is meant to introduce you to an alternative manner of triathlon training that won’t break your bank or make you neglect your family. Simply showing up to the starting line of a triathlon and then crossing the finish line is such an enormous accomplishment.

“If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance, or just finish the race; its up to you.”

 

-Dave Scott 6 Time Ironman World Champion

 

 How To Train Without Spending a Dime

I will cover the money saving tips that I have found in my triathlon training in order of the events in the race. That seems to make the most sense and will allow for some organization in topics.

Swimming Tips

Swimming doesn’t have to be expensive right?  All you need is water and a suit.  Well where most people drop the most money is on a triathlon suit that is made of breathable moisture wicking material that dries quickly.  These suits also have a small pad in the butt to aid with the biking portion of the race.

The cost of these suits starts at about $60 for a Pearl Izumi, while not too expensive you can get a nice Speedo swimsuit, goggles, and swim cap for about $45 from a place like Academy Sports or Dicks.  To save even more money just use the suit you have in your dresser.

During the early stages of training you aren’t as concerned about speed as you are about just putting your time in the pool.

To get your time in the water use the summer to do your swim training.  We do all of our swim training in our neighborhood pool which is free to use (except for required HOA fees).  Most triathlons are in the Fall and Spring anyway so using the summer to swim works out perfectly as you can spend the hot months in the water.

If you don’t have a community pool use the city pool, a lake, or friends pool.  If you do end up having to pay to use a pool block out as much time as possible to get extended pool workouts in this way you can go less.  Rather than simply doing a 500m swim try doing an additional workout.  The goal is to simply learn how to swim while conserving your energy and to make sure that you can at least swim the minimum distance required for your race.

Remember the swim is the shortest (time and distance) portion of the race so don’t spend TOO much time stressing over it.

Swim Money Saving Tips:

  1. Use the swim suit you have
  2. Use a community pool
  3. Swim during the summer

Once the race day draws near and you are feeling much more confident on the swim portion then you can purchase a Tri Suit.  But waiting until you have had time to practice will help you feel more confident and give you time to save up for this purchase.

Biking Tips

So the bike portion of the race is where is become VERY easy to drop TONS of money.  A top of the line bike can cost well over $10,000 and it is almost impossible to buy an entry level tri bike for under about $1500.

I’m afraid it is the bike that keeps more people out of triathlons and that makes me sad.  I have admitedly been passed in races by individuals riding a $70 Wal-Mart mountain bike.  But it is human nature to think that if we had the tools the pros use than we will automatically be as good as the pros.

I admit: having a light weight bike and clip pedals does make biking long distances EASIER but it is not required.

To start training for a triathlon simply dust of the old Huffy bike that is sitting in your garage and hit the road.  You should buy a cheap helmet.

At this point in the game the trick is to simply put in the miles and get your body used to biking and sitting down for that long.  The bike portion of the race will be where you spend the most amount of time during your triathlon so it is important to not ignore your bike training.

Don’t rush out and get a new tri bike.  When Sandi and I upgraded to triathlon bikes we went first over to Craigslist and were able to pick up $1500 tri bikes for about $600 including shipping.

Prior to doing this run down to your local bike shop and have them fit you out for the right size bike.  With this number in hand hit up SEARCH TEMPEST which allows you to search Craigslist nationwide and start shopping.

If want to spend under $200 then check out your local WalMart or sporting goods store (yes, I am being serious).  You can pick up a nice road bike like the Schwinn Prelude for just over $100. Or this Victory Vision for about $200.  Obviously you will be sacrificing on quality and speed, but it will work fantastically for short races and training and will work as a great cheap tri bike.

Bike Money Saving Tips:

  1. Use the old Huffy
  2. You don’t need bike shorts
  3. Buy a helmet
  4. Check Craigslist, WalMart, and sporting goods stores

Run Tips

I remember when I was a kid and my mom would take us to Payless to buy new shoes before each school year.  I would put the new ones on and head outside to run and break them in.  Without a doubt each time I got new shoes I honestly thought the new ones made me faster. It blows my mind how MUCH money people are able to spend on running. All you need are shoes.  I think that:

If people spent as much time actually running as they did buying name brand running clothes they would all qualify for Boston.

 

Under Armor, Nike, Adidas, etc. . . are all made in the same sewing factory in Asia.  They will NOT make you faster . . . you don’t need them.

As far as shoes go it is important to get a running shoe that fits comfortably . . . BEYOND that – – – just don’t buy stuff you can’t afford.

>>Watch “Don’t Buy Stuff You Can’t Afford HERE<<

When it comes to running just slap your shoes on and begin slow just getting your body used to running and being on the road.

Run Money Saving Tips:

  1. Use your old shoes
  2. Hit the road
  3. Don’t buy stuff you can’t afford

Now is the Time – Run a Tri

There are always a million reasons not to run a triathlon.  When it comes down to it, for a lot of us finances is really just another excuse for something else . . . most likely fear.

You don’t need to be rich, retired, single, or even in perfect shape to sign up for an run a triathlon.  Just set a goal and be realistic with yourself.  Don’t expect perfection and just get out there and train and run with the gear that you have.

Do you have money saving tips?  Share them below \/\/\/\/\/\/

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